Title:
ADJUSTABLE TETHER DEVICE FOR SECURING BABY OBJECTS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tether device for securing baby objects includes a stretchable cord, first and second double-buckles, and first and second loopable straps. The stretchable cord has a first end and a second end. Each loopable strap is operably attached to a corresponding double-buckle at a proximal end of the strap. Each loopable strap is configured to releasably secure an object within the strap when the distal end of the strap is threaded through the corresponding double-buckle. The straps include a section of hook fastener material and a section of loop fastener material on one side and gripping material such as neoprene on the other side. Independent buckles can be joined by a fixed loop at the proximal end of the strap, or an integral double-buckle is provided.



Inventors:
Waits, Robert Roland (El Sobrante, CA, US)
Waits, Shelley Chamblin (El Sobrante, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/688195
Publication Date:
09/25/2008
Filing Date:
03/19/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
24/163R
International Classes:
A47D15/00; A44B11/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MOHSENI, ALAEDDIN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KNOBBE MARTENS OLSON & BEAR LLP (IRVINE, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A tether device for securing baby objects, comprising: a stretchable cord with a first end and a second end; a first double-buckle operably attached to a first end of the stretchable cord; and a first loopable strap having a first and second side and a proximal and distal end, the proximal end of the first loopable strap operably attached to the first double-buckle, wherein the first loopable strap is configured to releasably secure a first object when the distal end of the first loopable strap is passed through the first double-buckle; a second double-buckle operably attached to the second end of the stretchable cord; and a second loopable strap having a first and second side and a proximal and distal end, the proximal end of the second loopable strap operably attached to the second double-buckle, wherein the second loopable strap is configured to releasably secure a second object when the distal end of the second loopable strap is passed through the second double-buckle, wherein the first side of each of the first and second loopable straps comprise a section of hook fastener material and a section of loop fastener material.

2. The tether device of claim 1, wherein the second side of each of the first and second loopable straps comprises a grip-enhancing material.

3. The tether device of claim 2, wherein the grip-enhancing material is neoprene.

4. The tether device of claim 1, wherein the stretchable cord can be stretched to at least about 110% of its unstretched length.

5. The tether device of claim 1, wherein each of the first and second double-buckles include an integral cord-connecting element having a receptor portion configured to receive the stretchable cord.

6. The tether device of claim 5, wherein the first double-buckle comprises a first buckle and a second buckle, and the first buckle and the second buckle are operably connected by a buckle-connecting loop of the first strap.

7. The tether device of claim 5, wherein each of the first and second double-buckles comprise a first buckle and a second buckle, and the first buckle and the second buckle are integrally joined together.

8. The tether device of claim 5, wherein each of the first and second double-buckles comprise a first buckle and a second buckle, wherein the first buckle is substantially rectangular shaped and the second buckle is substantially trapezoidal shaped.

9. The tether device of claim 1, wherein the first and second loopable straps have substantially the same length.

10. The tether device of claim 1, wherein the unstretched length of the cord is between about 6 inches and 48 inches.

11. The tether device of claim 1, wherein the lengths of the straps are between about 6 inches and 18 inches.

12. The tether device of claim 1, wherein the widths of the straps are between about 0.5 inch and 1.5 inches.

13. The tether device of claim 1, wherein the stretchable cord is a spiral cord.

14. A cord-connecting element for a tether device, comprising: a double-buckle connector, including a first buckle and a second buckle integrally formed with the first buckle; a receptor integrally connected to one of the first and second buckles of the double-buckle connector, the receptor configured to retain an end of a stretchable cord therein.

15. A tether device for securing baby objects, comprising: a stretchable cord with a first and second end; a first cord-connecting element attached to the first end of the stretchable cord; a second cord-connecting element attached to the second end of the stretchable cord; first and second loopable straps, the straps each having a first and second side and a proximal and distal end, the proximal end of the first loopable strap operably attached to the first cord-connecting element and the proximal end of the second loopable strap operably connected to the second cord-connecting element, wherein the first loopable strap is configured to releasably secure a first object when the distal end of the first loopable strap is passed through the first cord-connecting element and the second loopable strap, wherein the first side of each of the first and second loopable straps comprises a section of hook material and a section of loop material.

16. The tether device of claim 15, wherein the first cord-connecting element comprises a double-buckle.

17. The tether device of claim 15, wherein the stretchable cord is a bungee cord.

18. A method of securing a first object to a second object, comprising: providing a tether device comprising: a stretchable cord having a first end and a second end, a first buckle connector attached to the first end of the stretchable cord, a second buckle connector attached to the second end of the stretchable cord, a first strap attached at a proximal end to the first buckle connector, and a second strap attached at a distal end to the second buckle connector; threading a distal end of the first strap through the first buckle connector to define a first loop; cinching the first loop about the first object and affixing the distal end of the first strap to a side of the first strap to retain the first object in the first loop; threading a distal end of the second strap through the second buckle connector to define a second loop; and cinching the second loop about the second object and affixing the distal end of the second strap to a side of the second strap to retain the second object within the second loop.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the first object is selected from the group consisting of a belt, a stroller pole, a chair post, a backpack, a crib post, an arm, and a leg.

20. The method of claim 18, wherein the first object is selected from the group consisting of a baby toy, a sippy cup, a baby bottle, and a drink container.

21. The method of claim 18, wherein the stretchable cord is a bungee cord and the buckle connectors are each attached to the ends of the cord by a receptor configured to receive an end of the bungee cord.

22. The method of claim 18, further comprising wrapping the proximal end of the first strap about a rung of the first buckle connector and securing the wrapped proximal end about the rung.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention generally relates to a tether for an object and, more particularly, to a tether for baby products such as a baby bottle, sippy cup, etc.

2. Description of the Related Art

Infants sometimes have difficulty maintaining a grasp on objects, such as play toys or drinking or feeding bottles. Some infants are also prone to dropping or throwing their feeding bottles causing inconvenience to themselves and others and embarrassment to parents. In either instance, a dropped bottle can hit dirty floors, sidewalks, or streets causing dirt, debris, or other unwanted contaminants to accumulate on the bottle. Throwing objects is dangerous; the risk can increase when the object is thrown in a moving motor vehicle, as the driver could be distracted. If a drinking cup is thrown or dropped, the contents may spill if the container forcefully hits the floor. Sometimes the child does not throw the object but accidentally lets the cup slip out of their hands. In either case, a child may find it hard to regain the object if they are strapped into a car seat, high chair or stroller. Further, bottles or cups dropped by an infant can be lost by an unwary parent, particularly during outdoor activities.

A tether that limits the distance an object can be thrown and that can be used to retrieve the dropped or thrown object is desirable. It is further desirable that such a tether be adapted for attachment to child seats, high chairs, and the like. It is also desirable that such a tether be stretchable, so that a parent or caregiver can pull the drink container away from the toddler for refilling the drink container without having to unfasten the tether.

While parents have had to deal with the inconvenience of repeatedly picking up and cleaning dropped or thrown bottles and sippy cups for some time, convenient and efficiently designed tethers or straps are not readily available. For example, some commercially distributed tethers or straps do not permit the tether to accommodate a variety of bottle and cup sizes. Others require complex steps to couple the tether to the bottle or cup. Still others do not permit the tether to be easily held by the parent or guardian while also permitting efficient coupling to an object such as a stroller or high-chair. A tether device that can address these problems and more would be highly desirable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In some embodiments, disclosed is a tether device for securing baby objects that includes a stretchable cord, first and second double-buckles, and first and second loopable straps. The stretchable cord has a first end and a second end. The first double-buckle is operably attached to a first end of the stretchable cord. The first loopable strap has first and second sides and proximal and distal ends. The proximal end of the first loopable strap is operably attached to the first double-buckle. The first loopable strap is configured to releasably secure a first object when the distal end of the first loopable strap is passed through the first double-buckle. The second double-buckle is operably attached to the second end of the stretchable cord. The second loopable strap has first and second sides and proximal and distal ends. The proximal end of the second loopable strap is operably attached to the second double-buckle. The second loopable strap is configured to releasably secure a second object when the distal end of the second loopable strap is passed through the second double-buckle. The first side of each of the first and second loopable straps include a section of hook fastener material and a section of loop fastener material.

In some embodiments, at least one side of the first loopable strap includes a grip-enhancing material, which can be neoprene. In some embodiments, the stretchable cord can be stretched to at least about 110%, 120%, or more of its unstretched length. In some embodiments, the first and second double-buckle connectors are attached to receptor portions of cord-connecting elements. The receptor portions are preferably configured to receive the stretchable cord, which can be a bungee cord with a round or substantially round cross-section in some embodiments. In some embodiments, the first double-buckle connector includes a first buckle and an independent second buckle. The first buckle and second buckle are operably connected by a buckle-connecting loop of the first strap. In other embodiments however, the first and second buckle are integrally joined together. In some embodiments, the first buckle is substantially rectangular shaped and the second buckle is substantially trapezoidal shaped. In some embodiments, the first and second loopable straps have substantially the same length. In other embodiments, the straps have different lengths. In some embodiments, the unstretched length of the cord is between about 6 inches and 48 inches. In some embodiments, the lengths of the straps are between about 6 inches and 18 inches. In some embodiments, the widths of the straps are between about 0.5 inch and 1.5 inches.

Also disclosed is a cord-connecting element for a tether device. The cord-connecting element includes a double-buckle connector and a receptor integrally connected to the double-buckle connector. The double-buckle connector includes a first buckle and a second buckle integrally formed with the first buckle. The receptor is configured to retain an end of a stretchable cord therein, which can be a bungee cord with a round or substantially round cross-section in some embodiments.

In another embodiment, disclosed is a tether device for securing baby objects. The tether device includes a stretchable cord, first and second cord-connecting elements, and first and second loopable straps. The stretchable cord has a first end and a second end. The first cord-connecting element is attached to the first end of the stretchable cord. The second cord-connecting element is attached to the second end of the stretchable cord. The first and second loopable straps each have a first and second side and a proximal and distal end. The proximal end of the first loopable strap is operably attached to the first cord-connecting element, while the proximal end of the second loopable strap is operably connected to the second cord-connecting element. The first loopable strap is configured to releasably secure a first object when the distal end of the first loopable strap is passed through the first cord-connecting element and the second loopable strap. The first side of each of the first and second loopable straps includes a section of hook material and a section of loop material.

Also disclosed herein is a method of securing a first object to a second object. The method includes providing a tether device. The tether device includes a stretchable cord having a first end and a second end, a first buckle connector attached to the first end of the stretchable cord, a second buckle connector attached to the second end of the stretchable cord, a first strap attached at a proximal end to the first buckle connector, and a second strap attached at a distal end to the second buckle connector. A distal end of the first strap is threaded through the first buckle connector to define a first loop. Further, the first loop is cinched about the first object and the distal end of the first strap is affixed to a side of the first strap to retain the first object in the first loop. Also, a distal end of the second strap is threaded through the second buckle connector to define a second loop. Next, the second loop is cinched about the second object and the distal end of the second strap is affixed to a side of the second strap to retain the second object within the second loop. The method can also include the step of wrapping the proximal end of the first strap about a rung of the first buckle connector and fixing (e.g., sewing) the wrapped proximal end about the rung.

In some embodiments, the first object can be a belt, a stroller pole, a chair post, a backpack, a crib post, an arm, or a leg. The first object can also be a baby toy, a sippy cup, a baby bottle, or a drink container. In some embodiments, the stretchable cord is a bungee cord and the buckle connectors are each attached to the ends of the cord by a receptor configured to receive an end of the bungee cord.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a perspective view of an adjustable tether device, according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 1B is a perspective view of a tether device similar to that of the device depicted in FIG. 1A, except having an integrated double-buckle connector, according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2A is an exploded view illustrating the relationship between one end of a stretchable cord and a cord-connecting element, including a two-piece double-buckle connector of the adjustable tether device of FIG. 1A, according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2B is an exploded view illustrating the relationship between one end of a stretchable cord and a cord-connecting element, including a single piece double-buckle connector of the adjustable tether device of FIG. 1B, according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 shows an adjustable tether device where a first strap of a tether is releasably attached to an arm of a high chair, while a second strap of the tether is releasably attached to a child's sippy cup, according to one embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIG. 1A illustrates a perspective view of an adjustable tether 1. The tether 1 includes a cord 2 that is preferably stretchable. Cord 2 has a first end 4 and a second end 6. The cord 2 can be made of any suitable material known in the art, although the cord 2 is preferably elastic in nature, such as, for example, a bungee cord with a round cross section. A bungee cord is an elastic cord having one or more elastic strands forming the cord. A bungee cord can optionally be covered in a woven sheath made of, for example, nylon or cotton. The cord 2 may be any length, although in some embodiments, the length of the cord 2 is preferably in a range from about 6″ to about 48″, about 12″ to about 36″, or about 18″ to about 30″ in order for a person to easily reach an object at either end of the outstretched tether 1. In some embodiments, cord 2 is configured to be stretchable to at least about 110%, 120%, 130%, 140%, 150%, or more of its unstretched length to advantageously allow a child a limited degree of freedom in moving an object attached to the tether 1. In some embodiments, a cord is stretchable without necessarily having elastic properties. For instance, a stretchable cord can be configured to lengthen in a particular direction without substantially lengthening the actual material of the cord. One such example of such a stretchable cord is a spiral cord, such as that typically used to connect wired handsets to telephone base units. A spiral cord can be configured to stretch in the sense that it unwinds (and thus extends lengthwise) when it is pulled in an appropriate direction. In some embodiments, the cord has a diameter of between about 1/32″ and about ⅝″, preferably between about 1/16″ and about ½″, more preferably between about ⅛″ and about ⅜″.

The ends 4, 6 of the cord 2 are most preferably each received within cord-connecting elements 8. Each cord-connecting element 8 includes a first receptor portion 10 and a second receptor portion 12, in the illustrated embodiment both defining lumens configured to receive and secure an end 4 or 6 of the cord 2. In other arrangements, the receptor can comprise a single lumen.

The cord-connecting element 8 preferably also includes a double-buckle connector 16, including a first buckle 18 and a second buckle 20. In some embodiments, as shown, the second receptor portion 12 of cord-connecting element 8 is integrally joined with first buckle 18 of double-buckle 16.

In the illustrated embodiment, the first buckle 18 and the second buckle 20 are connected by a buckle-connecting portion of a strap 22 that forms a loop 24. This can be particularly advantageous in that first buckle 18 and second buckle 20 can rotate with respect to each other, thus allowing a degree of freedom for a baby, for example, to move an object while the object remains firmly secured to the tether 1. The buckle-connecting loop 24 of strap 22 is preferably formed by wrapping the proximal end of the strap 22 about adjacent rungs of the first and second buckles 18, 20 as illustrated. The loop 24 of the strap 22 can be affixed, for example, by sewing, adhering loop-fastener material, or the like. The first and second buckles 18, 20 can be made of any material known in the art. In some embodiments, the buckles 18, 20 are made of a moldable material such as plastic. The length of the strap 22 can be adjusted to secure an object by threading the strap 22 through second buckle 20.

In other embodiments, such as the embodiment shown in FIG. 1B, first buckle 18 and second buckle 20 are not connected by strap loop 24. Instead, the two buckles 18, 20 of the double-buckle 16 are integrally formed as one piece. The strap loop 24 may still be sewn or otherwise affixed to the middle rung of the double-buckle 16.

Referring to both the embodiments shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, the tether 1 preferably includes two straps 22 as shown. The straps 22 can either be the same or substantially the same length, or different lengths in other embodiments. While the straps 22 can be any length, in some embodiments, the straps 22 are between about 6″ and 12″ in length to accommodate a baby bottle or a sippy cup, or between about 6″ and 24″ in length to accommodate various baby toys, such as a rubber duck or stuffed animal. In some embodiments, one strap 22 is longer than the other strap. In one such embodiment, a first strap can have a length of between about 3″ and 6″ to wrap around a stroller pole or an arm of a high chair, while a second strap can have a length of between about 6″ and 12″ to wrap around a baby bottle.

In some embodiments, straps have a width of between about ½″ and 2″, or between about ¾″ and 1.5″, in order to secure an appropriate sized baby object without overly covering the baby object, or to fit around the handle of a drink container such as a sippy cup, as illustrated in FIG. 3.

In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, the straps 22 are each operably connected to one of the double-buckles 16 by the buckle-connecting strap loop 24 operably connecting the first buckle 18 and the second buckle 20 as previously described. The straps 22 have first and second sides. In some embodiments, at least a portion of one side of straps 22 contains hook and loop fastener material, such as Velcro®, to facilitate releasably securing an object within a loop of the strap. In the illustrated embodiments, one side of each strap includes a section 26 of hook material at the distal end and a section 28 of loop material proximal to the first section 26. In other embodiments, other materials can be substituted for hook-and-loop fastener while maintaining the ability of the straps 22 to releasably fasten an object within a loop of the strap 22. For example, snaps, ties, buttons, male-female complementary connectors, locks, and the like can be substituted for hook-and-loop fastener material. In some embodiments, at least a portion of a side of strap 22 (which is preferably the side of the strap that does not contain hook-and-loop fastener material) contains a grip-enhancing material such as neoprene to facilitate the tether 1 grasp on objects.

FIG. 2A is an exploded view illustrating the relationship between one end 4 of the cord 2 and the cord-connecting element 8, according to one embodiment of the invention. As noted above, an end 4 of the cord 2 is received within the receptor portions 10 and 12. In some embodiments, the receptor portions 10 and 12 of the cord-connecting element 8 are configured to retain the end 4 of a stretchable cord 2 therein, which can be, for example, a bungee cord with a round or substantially cross-section, or a spiral cord. In some embodiments, the receptor 10 and 12 is configured to receive a cord that has a diameter of between about 1/32″ and about ⅝″, preferably between about 1/16″ and about ½″, more preferably between about ⅛″ and about ⅜″.

In the embodiment shown, the first buckle 18 is substantially trapezoidal shaped (having angled side walls 19) while the second buckle 20 is substantially rectangular shaped (having side walls 21 that are substantially parallel to each other). The substantially trapezoidal shape of the first buckle 18 advantageously provides support where the first buckle 18 is integrally joined with the second receptor portion 12 of cord-connecting element 8 as shown. However, one of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that many other buckle shapes are possible as well. For example, both the first and second buckles 18, 20 can be substantially rectangular or trapezoidal shaped. As noted above, the buckles 18, 20 of the double-buckle 16 of FIG. 2A are preferably operably attached using the loop 24 of the strap 22. In contrast, the buckles 18, 20 of FIG. 2B are integrally joined together, as shown. The aperture of the buckle 20 distal from the receptor 10, 12 in which strap 22 can thread through, has a width dimension W2 just slightly wider than the width W1 of strap 22 in order to maintain a compact profile of double-buckle connector 16. In some embodiments, aperture of the distal buckles 20 has a width dimension W2 that is no more than about ⅛″ and ½″ larger than the width W1 of the strap 22.

The tether 1 can advantageously be used to hold a first object relative to a second object as follows. FIG. 3 shows an example where a first strap 22 of the tether 1 is releasably attached to a first object in the form of an arm of a high chair 30, while a second strap 22 of the tether is releasably attached to a second object in the form of a child's sippy cup 32. One of ordinary skill in the art will readily envision many different objects that can be secured using the tether 1. Some non-limiting examples of first objects that may be secured using the tether 1 include belts, stroller poles, chair posts, backpacks, crib posts, arms, and legs. Non-limiting examples of second objects to be tethered to a first object include baby toys, sippy cups, baby bottles, drink containers, and the like. In some embodiments, the tether 1 can be used to connect arms of a parent and a child to prevent the child from wandering too far away from the parent.

The tether 1 can be wrapped around an object using the following procedure. First, a loopable strap 22 is threaded through the distal buckle of the double-buckle 16 with the fastener material facing out. Before or after such threading, the loopable strap 22 is wrapped around a first object. The distal section 26 fastening material of the strap 22 is then secured to the proximal section 28 of the strap 22 such that the object is held within a closed attachment loop formed by securing the fastening material of the strap 22. Preferably the interior of the adjustable loop so formed includes a high grip material, such as neoprene. This procedure can be repeated for a second object using remaining strap 22.

In the embodiment of FIG. 3, the first object is a high chair 30 and the second object is a child's sippy cup 32. Thus, the first strap 22 is of a length (e.g., preferably between about 3″ and 18″, more preferably between about 6″ and 12″) to adjust for looping around and retaining a variety of first objects as listed above (chairs, belts, backpacks, a parent's arms or legs, an infant's arms or legs, etc.), while the second strap 22 is of a length (e.g., preferably between about 6″ and 24″, more preferably between about 12″ and 18″) more suited to baby articles to be retained (e.g., toys, sippy cups, baby bottles, etc.).

While the present invention has been described herein with respect to the exemplary embodiments and the best mode for practicing the invention, it will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art that many modifications, improvements and subcombinations of the various embodiments, adaptations and variations can be made to the invention without departing from the spirit and scope thereof. For all of the embodiments described above, the steps of the methods need not be performed sequentially.